Sunday, June 07, 2009

El Sadaawi on Obama

Nawal El Sadaawi, the older woman I'd most like to share a mint tea with, takes a sharply critical view of the recent Obama trip to Egypt:

"Obama is different as a person from GW Bush. Obama looks more human, but politics and economic interests have nothing to do with humanity.

We live in one world ruled by the capitalist patriarchal religious system. Power dominates our whole world (not justice or freedom or peace or ethics or human values).

Politics under such a system is a game based on how to use beautiful words to cover ugly actions, how to use the power of God to dominate your listeners, how to select verses from holy books to hide double standards and contradictions, how to kill people and rob their land and resources and then apologize to them with tears in your eyes . We call them in our Egyptian - Arabic language : "Crocodile Tears"

In Cairo (on Thursday June 4, 2009) Barak Obama spoke to 2,500 Egyptian men and women invited by the Egyptian and US governments and allowed to enter the big hall at Cairo University surrounded by 13,000 Egyptian and American police men.

We are 80 million in Egypt, so those 2,500 men and women who applauded passionately 30 times during Obama's 50 minutes speech are not the whole of Egypt. They are only: The Chosen People.

They applauded strongly when he said that Muslim women should wear the veil if they choose to wear it . As if veiling (or nakedness ) is something to be chosen! As lf oppression is something to be chosen by the oppressed.

Like saying girls or boys should be circumcised if they choose to be circumcised (because they do not want to be different from others), or like saying the poor people should be poor if they choose to be poor ( because of their laziness or ignorance), I read during the Gaza Massacre that the Palestinians choose to be killed ( or they kill their children ) so that they appear as victims and gain sympathy of the world.

I was looking at the TV screen, observing how Obama talks with his hands, eyes and lips. His lips and hands look less cruel than GW's. His colour more attractive, not black not white not yellow, a mixture of human blood and multiple races developed into a more sophisticated human being.

Obama is a creative actor on stage, learned his text by heart to sound as if there is no text at all. He is well trained in being spontaneous.

Egyptians, Americans or others, especially those chosen by governments, are not creative enough to understand this type of creativity : how some political leaders acquire what is called charisma. The Germans passionately applauded Hitler, the Russians loved Stalin, the Americans elected GW more than once. Sadat in Egypt won all elections by not less than 95 % of votes.

The most dangerous political leaders are the most charismatic, they make you sing : Kill Me Softly. You sacrifice your blood for them.

One of the chosen Egyptian men screamed in the hall while Obama was giving his speech: I LOVE YOU! Obama replied : Thank you.

Obama praised the king of Saudi Arabia in his speech, portraying him as a hero of the dialogue between religions! The theocratic kingdom breeding extremism is democratic ?
A dictator ally of US can be transformed to a democratic hero . Sadam Hussein and Ben Laden were freedom fighters at one time.

Obama praised Netanyahu saying he is intelligent . He did not describe any Arab ruler as intelligent, including Mubarak sitting next to him.

He did not mention the name of Mubarak in his whole speech . Did he want to distance himself as a person from himself as the American President ?

Did he want to expose or hide his double personality ?. But he is sophisticated and understands what is called in psychology "The philosophy of the present moment." How to leave yourself to the moment but not leave the moment to itself .

Obama`s body language looks natural, he jumps the plane stairs with his hands near his chest jumping with his body, like a happy school boy going to meet his girl friend . This is not the American President but Barak Hussein Obama.

I heard his speech through the TV and read it 2 more times to grasp or detect some improvement in the US policy . General human beautiful words selected from the 3 holy books. He sounded like the Pope giving his speech in Jordan some months ago, praising the 3 religions.

He used very well his middle name "Hussein" to speak to Muslims but he knows also when to hide it as a deformed organ .

Muslims listening to him applauded passionately when he read verses from the Kuran . They did not notice his mistake in understanding Surat Al Israa. It did not say that the 3 prophets Moses, Christ and Mohammad prayed together Lilat Al Israa.

Egyptian Copts applauded when he spoke about minority rights in Egypt . Israel applauded when he confirmed that USA and Israel are tied eternally by culture (not mutual interests) and when tears appeared in his voice when he spoke about the Holocaust, 6 millions jews burned in Germany, their eternal sufferings, their right to have a homeland.

He did not say that this homeland should have been in Germany, the country that burned them or in Europe or in the USA or in some other place where there is no people to be killed and robbed of their homes and land by military force. He did not ask Israel to stop its military violence against the Palestinian children . He only asked the Palestinians to stop their violence against Israeli children. He did not mention the number of Palestinians killed and tortured by Israel in the last 60 years till today.

He did not ask Israel to respect previous UN resolutions, he just asked Israel to stop building new settlements. What about old settlements that expelled thousands of Palestinians of their homes ? What about settlements to be build under the so called "Natural Growth"?

He asked Palestinians to forget the past and look forward. Some days ago in his country he asked people to forget the crimes of torture, to forget the past and look forward .
But what is the function of the Law if it is not used to investigate and punish criminals who killed or tortured ?
Obama shifted smoothly from ethics to politics and interests as if no contradiction.
He said the USA has no interest in Iraq resources. He ignored or forgot the Law of Oil forced on Iraqi government (which submits the oil of Iraq to the monopoly of American companies for 30 years) .

He mentioned the danger of Iran owning nuclear power, he did not mention the danger of the nuclear military power of Israel.

The real goal of Obama's speech was to mobilise the Muslim countries against Islamic extremists, to open the markets of Islamic countries to American goods under the so called development and partnership, to guarantee Saudi and Gulf oil and other American interests in the so called Middle East.

Egyptian people suffered because of the Obama's visit to Cairo. Thousands of students did not go to their schools or universities and delayed their exams. Those schools and universities were closed by the government for security reasons during the Obama visit. Mrs Obama stayed in USA and did not accompany her husband to Egypt to be with their 2 daughters during school exams.

Many streets in Cairo were closed by the police and many people could not go to work losing $20 million.

The Egyptian government spent $500 million for the security of Obama. 10 000 policemen and hundreds of police cars. Egyptian people were ordered to stay at home and not to open their windows in all areas visited by Obama, including the Pyramid region, Giza, Ain Shams, Helwan, Cairo University, some ministries, Al Kalaa, Sultan Mosque, Kasr Al Kobbaa, and all streets leading to these areas and more.

The normal life in Cairo stopped. Streets were empty, people were prisoners in their homes, no body was allowed to be near Cairo University while Obama was delivering his speech except 13 American men and women were allowed to make a show of demonstration at the university gate, shouting some slogans asking Obama to visit Gaza,

Those 13 Americans were allowed by the police to demonstrate . They are the opposition or the dissidents in democratic Egypt, while the real Egyptian dissidents are in prison or outside Egypt.

But politics is a game to be played by all parties.

Only 30 minutes after Obama`s plane took off the poor Egyptian workers were in the streets removing the artificial flowers and trees implanted everywhere to welcome the semi god of the world."

Nawal El Saadawi
5 June 2009


dapxin 1:07 am  

I dont get the point she is trying to make. seems like a circle-traveller to me.

Obama is not god if there was one; And he has a job to do.

The kid can only do the very best that is he capable of, the best way, that is humanly possible for him.

Its not exactly his fault, nor should it be his problem that there are lunatics out there, prepared to bomb all of em @ d uni to shreds because allah ordered em so.

In the end, he is US president, and he should be happy the guy gives them options. Its not up to him to make them hijab wearing lots, see the light or bomb their oppressors.

He got one right tho, the guy is a tin god of some sort, as elevated by all the hyper media around him.

This woman, I 'd be bored to have tea with. call me dumb, I ll drink that.


Ms. Catwalq 1:11 am  

And the end to Obama-mania sad...

Afolabi 2:20 am  

With plans such as the closing down of guatanamo bay (and the reasons given), speeches like this one and how celebrities parade events organized by him, I sometimes get the feeling that these things are geared towards creating a saint-like image of him. It's as if Obama, is creating of himself, a legend (which he already is), but the kind of legend people will keep talking about because of the great, humanitarian work he has done.

It is, though, arguable if this is a natural move for someone who's a politician, or if it is dubious, pretentious.

Anonymous,  3:36 am  

lol, a number of her facts were just wrong, such as obama's position on the torture debate in the US, or that mubarak was even at the speech, or that the US elected GW twice (the first doesnt count) or that obama or the US is unaware that saudi arabia is not a democracy. the US never praises them for their democratic ideals

but i dont get her other point that the goal is to mobilize the mideast against extremists. that obama's purpose is to get the mideast to move against extremists. but is she angry that obama is actually capable of doing it. why has no arab leader been able to persuade the US to move against israel. maybe she should ask the intelligent mubarek y he doesnt allow the palestinians into egypt. y mock obama as the "demi god" yet imply he has duties other than those he took an oath for

HKS,  4:47 am  

I would rather have Obama as president than El-Sadaawi. She has a simplistic one-sided view of things,though she does express it eloquently. Her view is "my way or the highway."

But life's not like that.

Twreckx 7:00 am  

I always wonder at pieces like this, pretty much saying Obama is like snake oil trader, peddling wares that in reality have no substance. I'm not sure what they would have him do. Not make the trip at all? Make the speeches from his home shores? Call everyone out on their misdeeds?

I would like to see any of these writers pen the speech they would have liked to hear, without it causing rancor to any party involved.

She raises some valid points (re: Israel), but while in her piece El Sadaawi points out the crowd in the hall was chosen, she fails to mention what reactions she heard or got from ordinary people. Is she too being judicious about what she chooses to express? I would called that 'speaking with a forked tongue', to keep with the reptilian analogies.

Yafaj 7:49 am  

interesting blog

check out mine as welll

Rara Avis,  10:41 am  

Why oh why do people abandon all critical analysis when it comes to Obama?

Thankfully, El Sadaawi is not one of them. She made many very valid points. It is clear that few (if any) of the above agree with her but could you please grant her the respect of having her own views. That they don't correlate with yours doesn't not make them wrong.

dapxin 10:45 am  

no one has abandoned critical analysis a la obama.

what most has done imo is critically analyze mrs El herself.

Mrs. El hasnt offered any specific thing Obama should have done differently in egypt, or what he's got wrong.

where is ?

J,  12:14 pm  

Critical, sharp, insightful and even humane. I enjoyed reading it.

I dont necessarily agree with all she says, but she raises critical point.
it doesnt necessaryily offer solutions, (and it need not) It asks questions. Questions are useful to thinking people.

Its examines rhetoric. and is uncomplicated. I like it for its eloquence and the effort at reasonableness. We all need voices like this for balance, for check.


tolu ogunlesi is a plagiariser 12:25 pm  

She is biased and what she is saying reeks of divisiveness...

Anonymous,  2:15 pm  

I admire Mme El Sadaawi’s piece, I just wish she’d put a little more work into fact checking and done less hair-splitting, it weakened the message.
It would have been difficult to invite the 80 million populace to Cairo University, so someone had to be ‘chosen’ I guess the writer wasn’t on the list?

The point abut veiling was largely intended for the American public, most of whom can’t fathom why Muslim women would voluntarily choose the modesty of cover; moreover, it’s a pointed reminder to Americans of the religious tolerance they so pride themselves on.
My turn to not understand why Mme. El Sadaawi chooses to attack Obama’s physiology – should we now all be wary of mulattoes; their indefinable skins and gestures may be smart new manifestations of Evil? Is charisma in leadership always to be regarded with suspicion?
Mubarak couldn’t be called intelligent because he chose not to be there, he sent his son instead. The writer doesn’t mention the fact that coverage of Obama’s visit gave prominence to democratic activism in Egypt about which many in the outside world is unaware. I am assuming of course, that Mme El Saadawi is on that side of the fence.

I totally agree that Obama uses his middle name only when it suits him to do so, as I also agree that ‘politics is a game to be played by all parties. Which is why consensus can only be reached in the Middle East when the sides stop playing victim and work with the facts on the ground. Israel will not be pushed into the sea and the Palestinians are staying put. If Obama’s smooth words and ‘double personality’ can play the game to win peace in the region, then all power to him.

o opesan 5:19 pm  

My comment might probably be biased since her book 'Women at Point Zero' is in my top three of all time.

Well, like the minority of commentators on this strand I'm of the opinion that El Sadaawi has done a good job of noting the obvious contradictions within Obama's speech, especially locating it within the capitalist partriarchal framework.

I love what Obama's done, but it time to walk the talk. Action is required. Beautiful speeches work in opposition. In power action is what counts, if not you get seven point agendas that are as good as the seven 'vertically-challenged men', ... ehn? ... alright dwarves

dapxin 5:24 pm  

seven 'vertically-challenged men', ... ehn? ... alright dwarves


Baba,  8:40 pm  

What's the source of this article?

Lost at The End 11:19 pm  

Obama is not what he seemed to be. Point taken. So?

You only cry foul that the US is not the Lamb of God that it makes itself out to be because you were naive enough to buy into the fiction in the first place.

I keep saying it. Barack Obama is a bado! You don't run an election campaign as good as he did if you are a goody-goody.

So to all those who are just now beginning to see that he is a wildbeast albeit a sexy and savvy one, I say, "Na today?"

N.zeit 7:23 am  

I was on the Obama band-wagon, had been from the early days and even got a few folks who didn't believe initially to believe and give him their votes.

I wanted him to win because he was the most-likely-to-win-radical choice. (radical in the sense that the only thing differentiating him from the other obvious choices were his ethnic background and his name).

Although I am pleased he is president ... I do not, and probably never, believed that he is a good-goody 2 shoes.

Come on the guy is a Politician from Chicago (Politician + Chicago = very capable of getting dirty and most likely has gotten hands dirty many many times).

That said, I still support him as my president ... but I hold no illusions about who he is and what he stands for.

This article sums up nicely how I feel about him and the whole superstructure of society now. As any thinking person knows ... its all about economics 101. Nothing really has changed.

In my humble opinion, anyone who thinks that that this article does not make sense ... does not know the half of it.

We still have a lot of work to do.

interimjustia 7:20 pm  

The Whole Problem with Anti-Obama is that some Papers are written for Republican readers and the Newspapers are noting more than propaganda and the sad thing is this is not only in America it's All over the World thats Politics.

Obi 10:27 pm  

IMO, She had some valid points and some invalid points.
Most of her points about the US's unfair bias for Israel in the ME conflict are valid.
People need to realize that Obama has to convince the American public as well whenever he attempts to enact policy changes in that part of the world. Trust me, there is a SIGNIFICANT portion of America who are naturally biased against Muslims in general and believe that Israel can do no wrong, and just can't see the Palestinians as the aggrieved party in the ME conflict. Its just plain as that. (Anyone watched Fox News lately).
Any unbiased rational mind would know that forcing Israel unto the Middle East and displacing thousands of Palestinians was wrong (just like European colonization of North America was wrong). But similarly, barring a radical shift in the power hierarchy in the world and a bloody war, the facts on the ground are not going to change. Israel is not going anywhere (and Native Americans and Australian Aborigines aren't going to regain control of their continents anytime soon).
The only way forward is to attempt to resolve the issue in the most equitable way possible. As a Nigerian, I believe that economic prosperity has a way of resolving many of these issues and reversing the sentiment of injustice most Palestinians feel towards Israel. If the standard of living in Gaza, the West Bank and Southern Lebanon can be raised to something comparable to the standard of living of Jews living inside Israel.

Anonymous,  10:27 pm  

I think she makes an excellent point about jews and israel. how unlucky did the palestinians get?

I've always found it curious that the rest of the world didnt do a lot more to make it safe for jews in their homes across the world and instead pushed for an ultimate homeland in palestine. jews in ww2 where not infact killed in palestine instead their prosecution was in europe (not just Hitler's but in Russia too where they had suffered severely long before him).

Lets imagine Fulanis in senegal suffering prosecution and all descending in northern Nigeria backed by the Chinese govt. They push the Yorubas, Igbos and all other tribes and when these tribes fight back, they are 'given' Lagos and Ogun and told that those states are now part of Benin republic (like the Israelis did with Jordan) which is their new home. After years of fighting and blowing things up, they manage to get back Port harcourt and Enugu but the leader of that movement is declared a terrorist for blowing things up and calling the Fulani(whom the entire world sympathysises with because of their previous prosecution) regime evil.

the palestinians and Arabs where not responsible for the holocoust, so why in God's name are they still being punished for the sins of others?


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